SOS Hondoq News

Sunday, January 20, 2008

From quarries to a golf course

Published on The Sunday Times on Sunday 20th January, 2008 by Angelo Xerri.

One morning last spring, I was hiking near Qala quarries and walked east towards Qala Fort (Il-Fortin) or St Anthony's Fort. This fort, built in 1732, dominates Ras Il-Qala, a neglected natural gem.

While walking I noticed that the ground, weeds and everything else was covered with dust from the quarries - as were my clothes. The seabed was no better. A diver told me that it was covered with steel mixed in with concrete from building materials, tyres and other garbage which had been dumped there.

About 60 years ago this area was a showpiece of our islands, complete with neat rubble walls, fruit trees, vineyards, and fields with clover, wheat and other crops, Blue Rock Thrushes (our National Bird) singing everywhere, while salt was gathered near the seashore.

Farmers, like my grandfather, worked hard using primitive tools and donkeys. They surely would turn in their graves if they were to see what is happening to the area today. How could this be allowed to happen? Somebody must be accountable to clean it.

This area could be cleaned by closing down the quarries and replace them with a golf course, since the area has all that a super 18-hole golf course require - it has many uncultivated fields with good soil to grow grass and trees, it also has some water. The summer sun beats down less harshly than in the south of Gozo. It will also be a beautiful sight for many ships and cruise liners sailing close to shore.

But at present it is just a huge eyesore. The many species of birds that stop here during migration and Blue Rock Thrushes will start nesting again in this area, for all golfers and visitors alike to enjoy. Many golfers like to play early in the morning, others prefer shady afternoons. It is ideal for this. Golfers can be ferried quickly to this area from Malta.

A golf course requires a clubhouse, with all facilities, including an Olympic-size swimming pool and an à la carte restaurant. The clubhouse and Restaurant could be built close to the restored Qala Fort.

A golf course in this area will also mean the end of dumping trucks that service these quarries. These trucks use all major roads, completely polluting this village, passing by schools, Qala Square, spewing diesel fumes, dust, unbearable noise, and damaging people's property in the narrowest of roads.

The Occupational Health and Safety Authority has done nothing about this. The final blow for Qala and the whole of Gozo's eastern coast will come if the Qala Creek project is given the go-ahead. Then Qala's shoreline and Comino will be polluted. When the wind blows from the west, north west, and north, there will be no other beach to go to in Gozo.

Gozo needs more beaches and not a ticket to destroy them. The beaches at Ċawlija and Żewwieqa have already been destroyed with the expansion of Mġarr Harbour. There is no room for mistakes like Fort Chambray. Preventing pollution costs less than building new clinics and hospitals.

Gozo’s woes

Published by The Malta Independent on Sunday 20th January, 2008 by Mrs. L. Kreupl.

Peter Riedhammer’s letter “Gozo - what’s missing?” (TMIS, 13 January) was very much to the point. There have been so many letters written over the past few years on this subject, some of which were written personally, but has anyone heard our pleas?

Has anything actually changed?

Has anyone in the relevant Ministries/Departments/Authorities done anything to improve matters on this delightful, wonderful island?

Does the rejection of the proposed water polo pool at Otters’ in Marsalforn mean that MEPA has had a change of heart as far as people’s rights and the environment are concerned, or is it merely due to the pressure of the upcoming election?

Fort Chambray, Ta’ Cenc, Ramla, Hondoq have all been discussed at length so let’s go to the other side of the island for a change and talk about Dwejra.

To view the whole article go to

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A wish list for 2008

Published on the Times of Malta on Sunday 13th January, 2008 by Alan Deidun.

The arrival of a new year is traditionally punctuated with resolutions and, most of all, wishful thinking. As a general election looms, I list my green wishes for 2008:

1. More effective Outside Development Zone enforcement. To quote Chris Borg (Malta Environment and Planning Authority Director of Planning) "...enforcement in ODZ areas, which is our most important enforcement objective" and "the proposed changes in the legislation are also expected to increase the enforcement powers, especially the ODZ enforcement. Our main objective is zero tolerance to ODZ illegalities".

2. No further ODZ development should be approved. In the offing are the Ħondoq ir-Rummien, Ta' Ċenc and Tal-Papa (Għirgħien, in Birżebbuga), while a few notable others have already been given the green light, such as the Tal-Buqana petrol station. More carrying capacity studies need be carried out. At least two other supermarkets are in the pipeline (at Luqa and Safi) and other similar applications are being concocted.

To view the whole article go to

Gozo – what’s missing?

Published on The Malta Independent on Sunday 13th January, 2008 by P Peter Riedhammer.

Where do we find the “peaceful rural character of Gozo”? Those times are unfortunately in the past...

The new construction laws, which allow three-storey or higher buildings to be erected, have led to many old farmhouses and historic buildings being demolished. These have been replaced by new apartment blocks, many of which are now mostly ruins that nobody wants. Greed, greed, and more greed on the part of the developers and construction industry!

Fort Chambray is a half-finished ghost town, Mgarr Hotel is without windows and doors, and all that is left of the Andar Hotel is a big hole!

Yet now developers want to build a huge complex consisting of a hotel, marina and villas in Hondoq! This project will effectively destroy one of the few relatively unspoilt and safe bathing areas on the island that is used by locals and tourists alike.

Does the government, or at least the Ministry of Gozo or the Tourism Authority, not learn anything from past mistakes?

To view the whole article go to

Monday, January 07, 2008

Time to call in the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage to save Hondoq

Published on The Malta Independent on Sunday on Sunday 7th January, 2008 by Lesley Kreupl.

I cannot believe that the spectre of a marina complex in Hondoq is once again on the books. Apart from the marina and tourist complex, I now hear that a so-called “temporary” road is going to be built at the end of the Immaculate Conception Sanctuary, passing up to the left in front of the existing block of flats leading to the quarry. According to the Hondoq Project Environment Impact Study (EIS), this is being done in order to minimise the inconvenience of trucks laden with rubble passing through the Kuncizzjoni hamlet!

Are the inhabitants of Malta and Gozo aware of the destruction that even this little road would do – there are tombs under the street next to the church, a wall constructed with huge stones is also buried there, probably the remains of a pagan temple which, according to local tradition, existed there. Cart ruts can be seen nearby, as well as tombs dating to the Paleo-Christian period that have not yet even been investigated, ancient huts and oval-shaped girna, caves which were once inhabited by religious hermits, the list is endless.

We are not talking about a little stony field for goodness sake, but an area in an Out of Development Zone that is known to be rich in archaeological remains!

I do feel that it is about time that the “Superintendence of Cultural Heritage” is called in to give an independent assessment of this terribly sensitive part of the Gozo coastline, where so much has already been destroyed. Unfortunately, this department often seems to react at the 11th hour, or even when it may be too late, thus risking the loss of so many incredible archaeological sites in the Maltese archipelago. Being an independent organisation, the country relies on it to help where others have failed. I am aware that the islands have an enormous wealth of cultural/historical/archaeological sites and that it is simply not feasible to attempt to preserve every single one, but surely, where it is not absolutely necessary to destroy such sites, they should be preserved for future generations.

The Hondoq Project Environment Impact Study (EIS) is most illuminating; the experts who compiled it found many remains in the area where the construction of a hotel, 25 villas and 260 flats has been proposed. These range from archaeological ones, possibly dating back to the Bronze Age, to relatively recent relics from the period of the Order of St John. The developers’ study also states clearly that there are probably many other archaeological deposits that have not yet been uncovered.

Unfortunately, due to quarrying in the area, the huge sea cave known as Ta l-Ghassa, as well as two amazing fougasses that used to protect the Comino channel, have already been lost for ever. Who knows what other gems will just disappear under the rubble of the road and project? This EIS alone is proof enough that the whole area should be protected as part of a future Maltese National Park system. If this is not done in the very near future, then what is left of this wonderful heritage will be lost forever, not only to the Qala community, but also for all generations to come.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Meta n-natura tizboq kull progett

Pubblikata fuq l-Orizzont nhar l-Gimgha 4 ta' Jannar, 2008 minn Brandon Pisani.

Il-bajja pittoreska ta’ Hondoq ir-Rummien, fil-Qala, Ghawdex, matul l-ahhar hames snin, kemm-il darba kienet fl-ahbarijiet minhabba l-proposta ta’ l-izvilupp kontroversjali tal-Qala Creek. Wara l-biza’ li din il-bajja tista’ tinqered b’dan l-izvilupp, xorta wahda, Hondoq ir-Rummien sab ghadu iehor – it-temp – hekk kif sfortunatament, ix-xita li ghamlet fl-ahhar jiem halliet dizastru liema bhalu f’din il-bajja li hija tant ghal qalb il-Qalin u ta’ l-Ghawdxin.

Wara x-xita li ghamlet fi tmiem il-gimgha li ghaddiet, l-orizzont zar Hondoq ir-Rummien u ra b’ghajnejh id-dizastru li sehh. Fl-istess waqt, l-orizzont ghamel ftit ricerka dwar l-istorja ta’ din il-bajja u kif Hondoq ir-Rummien m’ghandux bzonn progett bhal dak propost biex jittranga, izda b’mod naturali jista’ jittranga u l-gmiel li kien fih fl-antik jista jerga’ jigi kif kien.

Minn dak li sibna, sirna nafu li fl-antik, l-ilma tax-xita li kien jinzel mill-qalba tal-Qala, jibqa’ sejjer ghall-Wied tal-Marga – kif ghadu jinzel sal-lum il-gurnata - u wara kien jingabar fi speci ta’ barriera antika li giet qisha ghadira.

Din qieghda fuq in-naha tal-lemin, int u niezel lejn Hondoq ir-Rummien fejn hemm hafna qasab taht ir-rih tal-barriera ftit qabel il-Kappella tal-Blat.

X’hin din kienet timtela, l-ilma kien imur in-naha l-ohra fejn kien hemm ghadira kbira ohra, fejn illum hemm il-barriera u hemm qisu krejn imkisser fuq ir-rih u fejn hemm propost li ssir il-lukanda. Imbaghad jekk din kienet timtela bl-ilma tax-xita, l-ilma kien jis-picca f’post li jghidulu “tal-Lozor”, ezatt fejn se tkun il-bokka tal-jott marina u l-ilma qatt ma kien imur ghal gol-bajja. L-ilma kien jintuza mill-bdiewa specjalment fis-sajf. Fl-antik anke kien hemm min kien jghum fiha.

Residenti Qalin li tkellmu ma’ l-orizzont qalu li fost l-affarijiet li jistghu jsiru biex l-ghadira terga’ tigi fl-istat naturali li kienet qabel u l-post jissebbah mill-gdid, huwa li titnaddaf din l-ghadira u tinholoq ghadira ohra bhalma kien hemm fl-antik u hekk, mhux biss jissebbah il-post, izda anke tigi solvuta l-problema ta’ l-ilma.

L-ilma li kien jingabar f’dawk iz-zewg ghadajjar illum kollu jispicca jghaddi mill-bajja u jkaxkar ir-ramel. Issa kull darba li taghmel xi halba xita qawwija, ir-ramel kollu tal-bajja jispicca fil-bahar.

L-ilma tal-wied, li qabel kien jispicca fl-ghadajjar, issa sab postijiet ohrajn mnejn jghaddi u anke spicca jghaddi mit-triq u issa l-ilma qed ikaxkar kollox mieghu ghal gol-bahar.

L-istess residenti sahqu ma’ l-orizzont li “Hondoq ir-Rummien inqisuh bhala prostituta li wara li kulhadd inqeda minnu, imbaghad kulhadd hallieh abbandunat.

Issa ghax il-Kunsill tal-Qala jrid jiehu hsiebu, sibna minn irid juzah ghall-iskopijiet tieghu. Il-bajja giet dizastru bix-xita, ahseb u ara kif se tkun affettwata l-bajja meta jibda’ jitqatta’ l-blat ghall-progett.

Issa l-izviluppaturi pproponew li jnehhu dik it-triq ukoll (ghax parti minnha tigi f’nofs l-progett) u se jaghmlu triq ohra bhalma kienet qabel, wieqfa hafna”.

Il-progett propost tal-Qala Creek, skond l-izviluppaturi Gozo Prestige Holidays, se jkun jiswa 72 miljun Ewro. Skond l-izviluppaturi, l-art fejn se jsir il-progett hija taghha u tkopri 107,597 metru kwadru. Huma se jizviluppaw 56,880 metru kwadru mill-barriera ta’ Hondoq.

Hekk kif jinhareg il-permess, l-iskavar mistenni jdum bejn 15-il xahar u 18-il xahar, waqt li x-xoghol kollu mistenni jdum erba’ snin.

Iz-zona tal-progett Qala Creek hija bejn l-inhawi maghrufin bhala “Ta’ l-Ghassa” fil-Lvant tal-barriera u bejn l-inhawi maghrufin bhala “Ta’ Kordina” fit-Tramuntana tal-barriera. Iz-zona tkopri wkoll l-inhawi ta’ “Hondoq ir-Rummien Gorge” u “Hondoq ir-Rummien Valley” fil-Punent u n-Nofsinhar tal-barriera rispettivament.

Ta’ min ifakkar li bejn il-15 u s-17 ta’ Novembru tas-sena 2002, il-Kunsill Lokali tal-Qala organizza referendum konsultattiv ghall-Qalin biex jivvotaw jekk humiex favur jew kontra l-progett Qala Creek.

Ghal dan ir-referendum hargu jivvotaw 966 (74.4 fil-mija) minn 1,298 resident fil-Qala li kienu elegibbli ghall-vot. Minn dawn, 806 (84.5 fil-mija) ivvotaw kontra li jsir il-progett, waqt li 148 (15.5 fil-mija) ivvotaw favur il-progett. Kien hemm biss 12-il vot invalidu.

Biex tara l-artiklu inkluz r-ritratti, mur fuq